Iowa Camps in “relationship season” – an open letter from the Director of Camps and Retreats

Iowa Camps in “relationship season” – an open letter from the Director of Camps and Retreats

November 09, 2021

Dear Friends and Colleagues in Ministry,

What an exciting time of year it is! As the weather begins to turn colder and Christmas decorations begin to pop up my heart is filled with gratitude for the amazing people that I have had the opportunity to partner with at the Iowa Annual Conference. Being your colleague is a joy and one that neither I nor the Iowa Camps Team takes for granted. 

In 2019 Iowa United Methodist Camps started off on a journey to sustain itself apart from apportionment funding. At first, it seemed like an impossible task and times were tough. Replacing hundreds of thousands of dollars with no formal background or training in this type of work was daunting. Nonetheless, we recruited volunteers, implemented an annual campaign, and focused on telling the story of changed lives at camp so that Iowa can keep these amazing ministry centers open to share Christ with kids. Had we not done that there’s a chance that the pandemic would’ve dramatically impacted Iowa’s ability to have camping as we know it today. Instead, I am pleased to share that we are anticipating growth and are seeing the future as sustainable.

As Iowa Camps began to transition away from apportionments, I learned an important lesson. Having a thriving youth camping ministry here in Iowa isn’t about money. Rather, it’s about relationships. Healthy relationships involve working together on common goals, pushing one another towards success, and supporting one another with a humble heart. At Iowa United Methodist Camps, we are grateful for our connectional system that creates friendships and want to be transparent about who we are and how we can be a resource to your church and community. We want to partner with you in sharing Jesus with youth and adults all over the state. Maybe most important - we want to grow our relationship with you.

The next few months Iowa United Methodist Camps are entering into the time of year I’ve started calling our “Relationship Season” where we celebrate the year that was by talking with our friends about ministry goals for the upcoming year. You or your church might get a call from our Major Gifts Team to invite you to become a member of our Campfire Circle. We are making this invitation not because we see it as an obligation but rather because we see you as our friend and ministry partner. Whether or not your church is able to financially contribute to the major gifts campaign, your friendship means more than money. 

During the Community Campaign this upcoming February you might be contacted by an Iowa United Methodist Camps Campaigner who cares about you and thinks the world of you. You’ll then be invited to consider supporting kids coming to camp. Regardless of whether you are able to support financially, we will always see you as a friend with who we want to be in a relationship. 

The ministry of Iowa United Methodist Camps has impacted tens of thousands of lives in Iowa and all over the world. Helping youth and adults learn about Jesus Christ while making new friends is the focus of camp and aligns with the mission of the Iowa United Methodist Church to “Inspire, Equip, and Connect communities of faith to cultivate world-changing disciples of Jesus Christ.” 

I’m often asked what we need to make Iowa United Methodist Camps work best. What we need is for kids to come to camp and have life-changing experiences. We need summer staff to come to camp to learn and grow into caring, Christ-centered role models. We need to celebrate and support the ministry that you’re doing in your local church! After all, celebrating one another is what friends do.

Thank you for being a friend to Iowa United Methodist Camps. It means more than you know.
Bryan Johnson
Director of Camps and Retreats